There are things to be said about the importance of all 11 Bayern Munich players that will take the pitch against Borussia Dortmund in Saturday's Champions League final. But, while Dortmund has taken it upon themselves to ingratiate themselves with the English via their yellow double decker bus, and "bobbies" dressed out in black and yellow, Bayern Munich needs no such propaganda: One only must look to Thomas Mueller. - Delaney: The personalities set to dominate final - Bennett: Bundesliga battle in Wembley How could anyone not like Thomas?
Wednesday 5 p.m. My best friend Adrienne and I make the excruciating rush-hour traffic drive from the Fort Lauderdale area to Miami International Airport. A drive on empty streets to the same location would take us 35 minutes; we get to the airport a full two hours later. Adrienne is along with me simply for the experience of London: She knows nothing of football (she calls it "soccer"), or this Champions League final ("What is that thing called you're going to see again?"). Yet, we've been friends since elementary school.
Jupp Heynckes' final Bundesliga match at his hometown club did not go quite as one might expect for Bayern Munich or Borussia Moenchengladbach. Bayern went down two in the first four minutes, and while they'd manage to pull one back in the seventh, the Foals continued to fight, garnering their third of the day just 10 minutes in. Slowly exerting midfield control, Munich clawed their way back into the match, scoring the fifth goal of the day on 18 minutes before grabbing two additional goals in the second half, ending with a final scoreline of 4-3 for the visitors.
Spox.de recently held a vote on the best team ever in 50 years of Bundesliga competition . Fittingly (or perhaps prematurely, depending on who you ask) Borussia Moenchengladbach's 1970-'71 side beat out this year's Bayern Munich in the final. And fittingly again, Jupp Heynckes -- with 'Gladbach as a legendary striker, and now at the helm of Bayern Munich -- was, and now is, an integral part to both teams' successes. Domestically, the '71 Fohlen side were the first team to defend a Bundesliga title: 34 matches, 20 won, 10 drawn and four lost -- 50 league points (at the time, only two were given for a win) and a plus-42 goal differential.
Augsburg did their best in trying to dull the eventual post-match party Saturday, but a patient Bayern would be rewarded with three second-half goals in a 3-0 victory Saturday in Munich. Bayern increasing their lead ahead of Dortmund, now at 22 points, for 88 Bundesliga points and an astonishing plus-79 goal differential. A veritable who's-who of former Bayern players were on hand -- 22 in all -- to welcome this record-breaking incarnation of Bayern with the Meisterschale for the 22nd time in 50 Bundesliga attempts.
Jupp Heynckes celebrated his 68th birthday Thursday with a low-key affair at the Saebener Strasse after match practice, joined by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Matthias Sammer, coaches, physios and players. Mindful of the massive tasks ahead, he said, "We have two finals in front of us, so we need to maintain our rhythm and our form. This means we must carry on as before on Saturday." - Heynckes hailed as 'real Special One' Bad news for Bayern's opposition -- relegation threatened Augsburg -- in FCB's final home match of the season.
Those who support Bayern Munich know Uli Hoeness' story well: The son of a butcher was recruited by then-Bayern manager Udo Lattek from TSG Ulm 1846 in 1970. In 239 Bayern appearances, Hoeness scored 86 goals, won three Bundesliga titles and three European Cups. He would suffer a knee injury in the 1974-75 Cup final against Leeds United -- one from which he would never fully recover -- eventually being loaned out to FC Nuremberg in the 1978-79 season. Unable to gain full fitness, he hung up his boots in '79, immediately accepting a position with Bayern as general manager.
Perhaps I should've modified my last blog entry. My take on "irrelevant" was solely league-related, not anything relating to the amount of passion shown by both clubs - neither fielding their best possible XI - in this Champions League final dress rehearsal that wasn't. Or, was it? A packed Signal Iduna Park saw Kevin Grosskreutz fire Dortmund in front with an early spectacular volley, and a sublime Mario Gomez header to equalize in the first half. But, while no more goals would be scored on the day, the action was truly in the second half: Manuel Neuer saved a Robert Lewandowski penalty, and Rafinha would see red for catching Jakub Blaszczykowski in the face with his elbow.
If you would've looked at the Bundesliga schedule when it came out over the summer, I'm fairly certain your eyes would have been drawn to this weekend's fixtures, specifically Bayern Munich at Borussia Dortmund. And then you would've probably thought, "Well, that could be the match that decides the whole thing." And you wouldn't have been alone in thinking that. - Delaney: Bayern-Barca difference - Bundesliga rivals set to meet But, Bayern came storming out of the gate, emphatically trying to right the wrongs of 2012, and Dortmund stumbled early in the league, indeed forcing them to concentrate on Champions League competition.
Lionel Messi started -- and finished, as well -- watching Barcelona from the bench as Bayern shamed the Nou Camp, the Argentinian striker looking glum through 90 minutes of camera breakaways on Wednesday to focus on one man who didn't matter at all. Not one bit. After all, Barcelona had given up before they had even started; starting (a half-fit) Messi on the bench, coupled with defensive problems? Alex Song a direct substitution for Sergio Busquets? No Abidal? No Alba? No Mascherano? No Puyol?
While last week's Champions League fixtures were an unabashed delight to watch if you're a supporter of Bundesliga football, the mood in Germany quickly turned pragmatic. Typically German. With the rest of the footballing world fawning over Bayern Munich's and Borussia Dortmund's lopsided wins over Barcelona and Real Madrid, the somewhat dour collective German psyche was there to remind us that no one had won anything yet. True story. The seething cauldron of the Estadio Bernabeu awaited Dortmund, and despite a late scare the Bundesliga side came through to book a place in the final.
It's a curious day in the Allianz Arena when the loudest cheers from the stands were for other Bundesliga scores posted on the video screens. When no one can quite decide who scored the lone goal of the match. When a female streaker made it farther up the pitch than Barcelona did for much of Tuesday. Eh, so it goes. Jupp Heynckes made 10 changes to the side that massacred Barca midweek for the 1-0 win over SC Freiburg, with Jerome Boateng the lone holdout. Tom Starke -- yet to concede a goal in a Bayern kit -- deputized for Manuel Neuer, while Boateng was joined by Rafinha, captain Daniel van Buyten and Diego Contento in defense.